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How to hear a difference between DACs?

knkkskknk

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I upgraded from an IK AXE multimedia interface to an RME ADI-2 DAC as a main interface and I thought I could hear a clear difference then, the audio went from muddy to wide and open

I just bought an UR824 and connected it's digital out to my RME interface to use the RME DAC
I have an E-MU Proteus hooked up to inputs of UR824
I hit the "demo" button on the proteus and I switch my headphone (AA Hi-X65) between the headphone outputs of the E-MU, then the UR824, then the RME.

so audio is generating on the E-MU > into preamp inputs of UR824 > digitally going out to ADI-2-DAC

I'm trying my hardest to hear the difference but I don't think I can... Why does the Proteus from year 2000, into the UR824 from 2010, digitally to the RME from 2017? all sound the same to me? Sigh... There must be a better way of testing this, I know the RME must sound better...
 
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radix

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I upgraded from an IK AXE multimedia interface to an RME ADI-2 DAC as a main interface and I thought I could hear a clear difference then, the audio went from muddy to wide and open

I just bought an UR824 and connected it's digital out to my RME interface to use the RME DAC
I have an E-MU Proteus hooked up to inputs of UR824
I hit the "demo" button on the proteus and I switch my headphone (AA Hi-X65) between the headphone outputs of the E-MU, then the UR824, then the RME.

so audio is generating on the E-MU > into preamp inputs of UR824 > digitally going out to ADI-2-DAC

I'm trying my hardest to hear the difference but I don't think I can... Why does the Proteus from year 2000, into the UR824 from 2010, digitally to the RME from 2017? all sound the same to me? Sigh... There must be a better way of testing this, I know the RME must sound better...

Well-made DACs should not sound different, as @Chrispy is alluding to. DACs have been audibly transparent for a long time.

With the RME, you get features like EQ and loudness, and a really great headphone amp. I bought one for the EQ and how it remembers settings when I switch between profiles, and the awesome headphone amp.
 

AnalogSteph

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These cans aren't very impedance-critical, with sensitivity of around 112 dB / V (96 dB / mW @ 25 ohms), which is reasonably high. They would sound very similar if not identical on many headphone outputs. A Scarlett gen3 may not be entirely happy though, it really hates driving low impedances beyond a few hundred microwatts (it's using a wimpy opamp at near-zero output impedance).

The UR824 headphone out seems to be pretty decent by Steinberg standards, with a specified 75 + 75 mW into 40 ohms, a fairly healthy value. If we assume maximum output voltage is about 6 dB less than the +18 dBu on the balanced line-outs, that means an output impedance of 30ish ohms (which may keep the worst effects of low-impedance loading at bay). I rather suspect that it is quite sufficient for the Hi-X65.

There's a few different AXE I/O interfaces from IK Multimedia (e.g. there's a Solo and a ONE), with seemingly decent amounts of output power into 50 ohms, although I notice they all have near 0 ohm outputs.

And that's before we even get to the entire topic of DACs.

BTW, which model Proteus would that be exactly? A 2000 or 2500 from that time should have an S/P-DIF output, no analog recording necessary.
There seem to be two rather different hardware versions:
Neither of them are using DACs from the stone age... version 1 main out should actually be somewhat better, the 4560 opamps in particular are rather a downgrade over 5532s.
 
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knkkskknk

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These cans aren't very impedance-critical, with sensitivity of around 112 dB / V (96 dB / mW @ 25 ohms), which is reasonably high. They would sound very similar if not identical on many headphone outputs. A Scarlett gen3 may not be entirely happy though, it really hates driving low impedances beyond a few hundred microwatts (it's using a wimpy opamp at near-zero output impedance).

The UR824 headphone out seems to be pretty decent by Steinberg standards, with a specified 75 + 75 mW into 40 ohms, a fairly healthy value. If we assume maximum output voltage is about 6 dB less than the +18 dBu on the balanced line-outs, that means an output impedance of 30ish ohms (which may keep the worst effects of low-impedance loading at bay). I rather suspect that it is quite sufficient for the Hi-X65.

There's a few different AXE I/O interfaces from IK Multimedia (e.g. there's a Solo and a ONE), with seemingly decent amounts of output power into 50 ohms, although I notice they all have near 0 ohm outputs.

And that's before we even get to the entire topic of DACs.

BTW, which model Proteus would that be exactly? A 2000 or 2500 from that time should have an S/P-DIF output, no analog recording necessary.
There seem to be two rather different hardware versions:
Neither of them are using DACs from the stone age... version 1 main out should actually be somewhat better, the 4560 opamps in particular are rather a downgrade over 5532s.


Wow a very detailed post, yeah I'm just using the Stereo outs cause I don't have a SPDIF cable right now... only TOSlinks, but I also think some ppl prefer using the A/D Conversion on these old units for character


The headphone out of the Proteus thought, I think this can be classified as the "raw source" of the sound, so it should technically sound better? Anyway Sending it to UR824 via it's TS outputs should degrade the signal slightly, then it's me comparing the headphone amp / D/A of the ur824 and the RME, with the UR824 being the master clock instead of (RME Steady FS clock which is suppose to sound even better I heard)

There is probably a difference it's just very hard for me to discern. I wonder if I had better headphones I could discern it better. Also since it's just a demo of a synth sound it's not a fully complex song with mixing / mastering. I think if I tested between these two side by side somehow UR824 D/A / HP Amp / World Clock compared to RME's I could probably hear a big difference. With high end conversion I always hear people say you can hear stuff like "transients better" "Soundstage" "3D Width" aka audiophile terms LOL but I did indeed hear this difference initially upgrading from my old IK Multimedia AXE (ONE) though lol
 
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